Current Conditions: Establishing a Baseline About Education on Dual Use Issues
As part of its charge, the committee sought to develop an understanding of:
The extent to which dual use issues are currently being included in postsecondary education (undergraduate and postgraduate) in the life sciences;
In what contexts that education is occurring (e.g., in formal coursework, informal settings, as stand-alone subjects or part of more general training, and in what fields); and
What educational materials addressing dual use research in the life sciences already exist.
The committee’s primary information gathering took place during an international workshop, held over two-and-a-half days in November 2009 at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw; the agenda and participants list for the workshop may be found in Appendix B. Two background papers commissioned for the meeting provided an indication of the types and frequency of biosecurity-related courses or modules at a selection of higher education institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan, and Israel (Revill et al. 2009), as well as examples of currently available online educational materials (Vos 2009). These background papers, distributed to all of the participants before the workshop, several other reports made available on the project website (American
Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS] 2008; Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention [BWC] 2008; NRC 2009f; Federation of American Societies in Experimental Biology [FASEB] 2009; NAE 2009; National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity [NSABB] 2008), and presentations at the workshop provided the basis for discussion. To inform its work further in preparing the report, the committee and the project staff also drew on additional studies and resources, which are cited and discussed in the body of this report.
THE CURRENT STATE OF EDUCATION ON DUAL USE AND BIOSECURITY
Background: Current Channels for Education About Responsible Research and Research Ethics
As described briefly in Chapter 1, there are currently three major strands through which life scientists may receive “education” about professional standards and responsible scientific conduct. All of these approaches are included in the baseline surveys described in the rest of the chapter. The education varies widely in form and content, ranging from formal coursework to specialized, sometimes one-time training, to informal instruction or mentoring as part of laboratory work. And the education reaches only a portion of life science students, technical personnel, or faculty. Issues related to raising awareness among life scientists about dual use issues is thus related to larger issues of the type of education about research ethics and broader social responsibility that scientists should receive.
Biosafety is the set of practices that have developed over time to protect the health of laboratory workers and avoid accidental or inadvertent releases. This is also the primary channel by which research technicians, who have access to and knowledge of dangerous pathogens that make them important participants in laboratory security, receive their introduction to the culture of responsibility. Biosafety practices are codified in several national and international documents. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Laboratory Biosafety Manual (LBM) was first published in 1983, with a third edition in 2004 (WHO 2004).1 In the United States, the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first published the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) in 1984, with the 5th edition being published in 2007 (CDC and NIH 2007). The latest editions of both the LBM and BMBL include chapters introducing the principles of biosecurity. The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) facilitated the development by biosafety and biosecurity professionals of the 2008 International Laboratory Biorisk Management Standard, which adds a proposed voluntary management system to guide the implementation of specific biosafety and biosecurity practices (CEN 2008). To date the biosafety community has been the most engaged in dual use issues. In large part, this results from the nature of the research subject to biosafety, especially at higher containment levels, and from the impact dual use issues have had on research funding, practice, and sometimes regulation.
Bioethics is broadly concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, philosophy, and theology. The term has multiple meanings in different national and disciplinary contexts, from medical or clinical ethics to research ethics or to ethics related to specific topics, such as research with human subjects and the scope and content of education vary widely as a result. This is reflected in the results of the surveys reported in this chapter. In addition to many government and nongovernment efforts at the national and regional level, the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has had programs in bioethics since the 1970s as part of its general efforts on the ethics of science and technology.2 To date, with a few important exceptions, there has been little engagement by the bioethics community in dual use issues (Selgelid 2010).
Responsible conduct of research (RCR) is a loosely defined set of issues, policies and professional standards, and good research practices that emerged in the United States after the NIH mandated in 1989 that holders of certain training grants provide instruction in responsible conduct of research to their trainees in order to ensure integrity in research generally.3 The policy came in response to congressional efforts to regulate research to prevent misconduct but also in response to the 1989 report from the Institute of Medicine that advocated such education (IOM 1989). RCR is also known widely as “research integrity,” “scientific integrity,” and even “research ethics.” Some topics for RCR education were sug-
Further information may be found at http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/bioethics/.
The requirement was expanded to cover all training grant recipients in 1992 and expanded further in 2009. The 2009 policy document may be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-10-019.html.
gested, but NIH did not recommend a curriculum or particular topics or format until November 2009; in addition to topics such as conflicts of interest and mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships, the ninth topic is “the scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research” (NIH 2009). In another important development in 2009, the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a requirement for institutions to provide instruction in RCR to all trainees funded by or working with NSF-funded research projects. NSF supports major programs in the life sciences (biology, agricultural science), as well as in basic physical sciences (chemistry) and engineering, and mathematics that are increasingly playing important roles in life sciences research (NRC 2009g). Because NIH and NSF funding extends beyond the United States, the impact of these requirements is felt internationally. There has also been a conscious effort in recent years to expand RCR education internationally, as reflected in the Second World Conference on Research Integrity in Singapore in July 2010.4
Survey of In-Person Courses and Modules: Europe, Japan, UK, and Israel
A group of researchers at the University of Exeter, the University of Bradford, the National Defence Medical College of Japan, and the Landau Network Centro Volta in Italy have recently undertaken a program of activities to identify the biosecurity education available in multiple countries and assess potential needs and opportunities. As an important component of this project, Giulio Mancini, James Revill, and their colleagues conducted surveys in Europe, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Israel on the existence of biosecurity modules within a selection of university degree courses (Revill and Mancini 2008; Minehata and Shinomiya 2009; Minehata and Friedman 2009; Revill 2009; Revill et al. 2009).5 The surveys included both undergraduate and master’s degree courses and were chosen to include basic science classes in microbiology or molecular biology as well as applied biotechnology and industrial biology offerings. James Revill conducted an expanded survey in the United Kingdom by sampling not only university course offerings but also A-level high school courses, life science textbooks, and funding agency requirements (Revill
The conference website is https://www.wcri2010.org/index.asp. One of the workshop’s products, the “Singapore Statement on Research Integrity” (Second World Conference on Research Integrity 2010) may be found at http://www.singaporestatement.org/.
A condensed version of the report on Europe, augmented with data from Japan and the United Kingdom, was prepared as a background paper for the workshop (Revill et al. 2009), and presented during one of the early plenary sessions.
2009). This information provides an indication of the frequency and content of biosecurity-related courses in these regions.
The surveys in Europe and Japan involved a review of the information available online for life sciences courses using the key words biosecurity, dual-use, bioethics, biosafety, arms control, and codes of conduct, along with follow-up discussions whenever possible with identified faculty and course coordinators.6 Of the 142 courses at 57 universities in 29 countries sampled in Europe, the authors report that only three offered an optional module devoted specifically to biosecurity: Jagiellonian University in Poland, University of Vienna in Austria, and Uppsala University in Sweden (Mancini and Revill 2009). An additional 25 percent (36 courses) made at least a reference to biosecurity, particularly as part of a bioethics module. Modules covering a variety of bioethics and/or laboratory bio-safety topics were identified more frequently in the sample—48 percent (68 modules) for bioethics and 19 percent (27 modules) for biosafety. Investigations of course syllabi and follow-up interviews revealed that these modules covered a wide range of both philosophical and practical issues; some individuals also indicated that aspects of laboratory biosafety were discussed elsewhere in degree programs. Only about 15 percent (21 courses) included specific references to biological weapons, arms control, or the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), although the limitations in online descriptions of course material and a low response rate to requests for follow-up interviews complicated the ability to draw firm conclusions on the extent these topics are covered.
In the United Kingdom, the survey produced a sample of 57 undergraduate and postgraduate courses at 31 universities (Revill 2009). As far as the author was able to determine from searching online and following up via email, 27 of the 57 courses identified offered some material on bioethics although only a few included topics relevant to biosecurity, 6 degree courses definitely included some material on biological warfare and weapons, one course was identified that included biosecurity issues, and none of the courses sampled included material on the BWC.
In Japan, the sampling process identified 197 life science degree courses at 62 universities across Japan, of which 98 were undergraduate and 99 were postgraduate (Minehata and Shinomiya 2009). Specific bioethics modules were identified in 70 percent of the courses (138). In contrast, only 3 biosecurity modules were noted, along with a few reported instances of references to biosecurity. There were only 18 cases of a specific biosafety module, but the authors comment that biosafety education in Japan is more frequently taught by means other than a single dedicated
module. As in Europe, the researchers found only limited mention of the international regimes to prohibit biological weapons (11 cases).
Of particular interest to the workshop, the surveys also examined biology course references to the term dual use. In Europe, approximately 20 percent of the courses surveyed did include such a reference, an additional 23 percent did not, and the results for the rest of the sample were unclear on the basis of the materials available. The authors further reported that attitudes varied among interviewed individuals with regard to the utility of teaching students about potential dual use issues in the life sciences. In Japan, on the other hand, the researchers report that bioethics content discussing the use and potential misuse of science was relatively common (94 cases), even if it was not explicitly framed in terms of “dual use.” Indeed, a significant proportion of the individuals who responded to the researchers’ requests for further information were unfamiliar with “dual use” as applied to the life sciences (17 of 24 respondents). In the United Kingdom, 8 degree courses offered material on dual use issues out of 57. Secondary school A-level biology course specifications likewise did not include specific references to biological weapons or to “dual use,” although discussions of ethical, social, and environmental issues in biology were broadly encouraged.
A similar survey was conducted in Israel, in a partnership between the Bradford Disarmament Research Centre and the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). The authors sampled the content of 35 biosafety and bioethics courses from six research universities in the country and reported that “there was no specific module on biosecurity found in this investigation, while 4 biosafety modules and 28 bioethics modules were discovered” (Minehata and Friedman 2009). The authors note, however, that Israel presents an example of a country with significant current opportunities for increasing education on biosecurity topics, including dual use issues. In 2008, the Steering Committee on Issues in Biotechnological Research in the Age of Terrorism, a joint project of the INSS and the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities, released its report Biotechnological Research in an Age of Terrorism (Israel Academy 2008). A number of the report’s recommendations were subsequently enacted into law. The Council for Biological Disease Agent Research was established under the Regulation of Research into Biological Disease Agents Act, providing a top-down framework with the ability to support the implementation of biosecurity education (Friedman 2010).
In addition to the surveys cited above, a number of other surveys were being developed and implemented by the Bradford-Landau collaboration. Surveys for Ukraine, Morocco, Pakistan, and the Asia-Pacific were among the examples cited during the workshop or reported later (Rappert 2010; Sture and Minehata, in press). In addition to their role in
providing information, the surveys were seen as part of a broader strategy to identify potential collaborators and raise awareness at the national and international level about the current state of education about dual use issues.
Another potential source of information about education on dual use issues is the Global Ethics Observatory (GEObs), a project of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).7 The observatory is a system of databases with worldwide coverage in bioethics and other areas of applied ethics in science and technology such as environmental ethics, science ethics, and technology ethics. Submissions to the GEObs databases are voluntary, but the coverage is potentially global. One of the databases on Ethics Education Programs includes 230 programs across a wide range of ethics. Among the topics included in the Science Ethics category are Biological Weapons, Biosafety, Bioterrorism, and Dual Use. No programs were registered for which dual use was a keyword, one program in Belarus appeared for biological weapons and for bioterrorism, and two for biosafety (Belarus again and Côte d’Ivoire).
Survey of In-Person Courses and Modules and Attitudes Toward Education on Dual Use Issues in the United States
The prevalence of education on dual use issues has also been examined in the United States. With assistance from the Association of American Universities, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) surveyed deans at colleges of medicine, veterinary medicine, nursing, public health, engineering, and graduate schools of arts and sciences on the existence of programs addressing dual use research in the life sciences. The survey results identified four categories of educational programs: education programs for scientists, biodefense policy courses, biosafety training programs, and bioterrorism preparedness courses for public health students. This survey, augmented by additional AAAS research, identified existing education programs at 14 universities that “specifically dealt with educating graduate or professional students in the biomedical sciences on dual use research issues” (AAAS 2008:3). These programs included lectures, case studies, simulations, and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training modules; links to all these programs were made available on the AAAS website.8 A meeting on “Professional and Graduate-Level Programs on Dual Use Research and Biosecurity for Scientists” subsequently held by AAAS in November 2008 augmented the results of the survey with discussions among experts that yielded addi-
tional information about gaps and made recommendations about how to fill them (AAAS 2008).9
In addition to this survey of existing U.S. university courses, AAAS and the National Research Council conducted a survey of scientists’ attitudes towards biosecurity (NRC 2009d). The survey sampled 10,000 AAAS members in the life sciences, but the low response rate (approximately 20 percent) means that the results should not be generalized beyond those who responded to the survey. Among the respondents, 16 percent considered themselves to be doing research with dual use potential, while 15 percent (260 people) indicated that they had changed their behavior in some fashion due to dual use concerns, including changes to communication, research design, or collaborators. The surveyed scientists generally supported education about dual use issues, with 82 percent agreeing that professional societies should develop codes of conduct and 68 percent supporting additional lectures and materials on dual use life sciences research for university and college students. However, only 55 percent agreed that institutions should provide mandatory training, while 86 percent felt that the principal investigator of a laboratory should assume the primary responsibility for training lab personnel about dual use research and for assuring that any dual use implications of ongoing research had been appropriately considered.
Online Educational Materials
In addition to in-person courses and modules devoted to aspects of biosecurity identified in the surveys, the committee sought information about what online educational resources currently exist in the United States and internationally for use in undergraduate or postgraduate education.10 A background paper commissioned from Cheryl Vos (2009), then with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), provided summaries of the online resources that she identified. It was beyond the resources available to the committee to attempt a broader survey of published materials.
The online materials vary in length, target audience, and the way their content is presented. The modules, all of which were available as of December 1, 2010, include:
Case Studies in Dual-Use Biological Research, Federation of American Scientists (USA) [http://www.fas.org/biosecurity/education/dualuse/]
Dual Use Dilemma in Biological Research, Policy Ethics and Law Core of the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence for Emerging Infections and Biodefense (SERCEB) (USA) [http://www.serceb.org/dualuse.htm]
Biosecurity: Risks, Responses and Responsibilities, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation (USA) [http://www.armscontrolcenter.org/policy/biochem/biosecurity_educational_materials]
Educational Module Resource, Bradford Disarmament Research Centre (UK), National Defence Medical College (Japan), and Landau Network Centro Volta (Italy) [http://www.dual-usebioethics.net]
The Life Sciences, Biosecurity and Dual Use Research: Dual Use Role Playing Simulation, University of Exeter (UK), University of Bradford (UK), and University of Texas at Dallas (USA) [http://projects.exeter.ac.uk/codesofconduct/BiosecuritySeminar/Education/index.htm]
Biology and Security, Student Pugwash USA (USA) [http://www.spusa.org/pubs/peace_security/biosecurity/index.html]
In addition, material on biosecurity is included as part of the website, Resources for Research Ethics Education (www.research-ethics.net), of the University of California, San Diego, Center for Research Ethics. It emphasizes U.S. legislation, includes questions and other resources for teaching ethics, and has links to other resources, including both the FAS and SERCEB online modules.
Both the FAS and SERCEB resources are designed to encourage students, researchers, and/or laboratory technicians to log in and work through the materials on their own with no additional guidance from an instructor. The SERCEB module is a single online presentation that is intended to require approximately 30 minutes to complete. The introductory content includes relatively brief overviews of the historical use of biological weapons, applicable international treaties such as the Biological Weapons Convention, and relevant U.S. laws such as the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act. The SERCEB module then takes the user through several commonly cited cases of research with dual use potential—including the chemical synthesis of the poliovirus genome (Cello, Paul, and Wimmer 2002), the characterization and reconstruction of the 1918 flu (Taubenberger et al. 2005; Tumpey et al. 2005), and the incorporation of a cytokine gene into mousepox (Jackson et al. 2001). In addition, the module takes the user through a hypothetical scenario in which a graduate student encounters dual use issues in her work. Several discussion and assessment questions are included at the end of the SERCEB module,
and a certificate of completion can be generated and printed. The module was updated after an evaluation to reflect comments and suggestions from students, faculty members, and members of SERCEB institutional biosafety committees who had taken it and also from faculty who had assigned it to their students.
The FAS project is a more ambitious effort that currently includes eight modules focused primarily on case studies that exemplify potential questions about dual use issues that a researcher might encounter. The first module offers the same type of brief introduction to the issues provided by the SERCEB module, including a history of bioweapons and efforts to control them. The other modules include the three cases covered by the SERCEB modules and also cases involving antibiotic resistance, aerosol delivery, and RNA interference. A seventh module focuses on public reaction to scientific research, featuring Susan Ehrlich, a former state court judge and “public” member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. The FAS modules concentrate on the real-life examples, including links to original scientific papers and videos of researchers discussing the results. Several discussion and assessment questions are included at the end of the modules, along with additional references and resources. One of the case studies has been translated into French, another into Chinese, and a third is being translated into Russian. Even though designed to be used as stand-alone resources, plans are also being made to develop resources for teachers to make it easier to integrate the modules into existing courses.
Biosecurity: Risks and Responsibilities is a video series whose “learning units” provide an introduction to biological weapons, bioterrorism, and the risk of misuse of legitimate biological research. It also has three case scenarios for the user to consider, as well as links to readings to supplement both the learning units and the case scenarios. Rather than focusing on dual use issues, Biosecurity: Risks and Responsibilities provides a detailed history of biological weapons and efforts to control them. There are four units currently available, and each unit is divided into sections. Two units provide a broad and comprehensive history of biological weapons use and development. The third unit, “Some Perils of Modern Biology,” addresses dual use issues as well as the potential for deliberate efforts to harness modern biotechnology for weapons. The fourth unit contains detailed information to address the question, “How can hostile exploitation of biology be prevented?” including the major international agreements for biological and chemical disarmament and an array of other national and international measures. It also includes a discussion of the major nongovernmental organizations involved. The video format is often simply used to display text or bullet points, but on occasion it provides images to accompany the voiceover.
A separate section has additional materials for teachers, including a proposed learning strategy. “This strategy is suggested both for brief exposure to the materials (two one-hour class sessions and about ten hours of homework with materials downloaded from the website) and for initiating longer exposure based on the considerable material on the website (up to a one-half semester course)” (http://www.armscontrolcenter.org/policy/biochem/biosecurity_educational_materials, accessed July 10, 2010). The section for teachers cites research on learning to support a problem-based approach and offers additional resources through a password-protected site to which teachers can request access.
The content provided by the Educational Module Resource (EMR) specifically targets teachers, to assist them in learning about dual use topics and to provide materials for developing lesson plans to train scientists. The EMR is a major component of an ambitious education effort by researchers from the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan. Much of the activity is carried out by the Bradford Disarmament Research Centre of the University of Bradford, which developed the EMR in cooperation with the Defence Medical College of Japan and the Landau Network Centro Volta. The EMR provides a substantial amount of material, including 21 sets of PowerPoint slides and links to associated briefing papers that provide additional information under main themes such as “The Threat of Biological Warfare (BW) and Biological Terrorism (BT) and the International Prohibition Regime,” “The Dual-Use Dilemma and the Responsibilities of Life Scientists,” “National Implementation of the BTWC,” and “Building an Effective Web of Prevention to Ensure Benign Development.” The material, which was originally available in English and Japanese, is now also available in Russian. The slide sets are intended to provide resources that can be used for anything from a short module focused on a single topic to a complete course that could extend over a number of weeks. As the project website notes: “We would like to emphasize that the educational module resource is not a Teaching Module rather it is a ‘Module Resource.’ Conscious that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, our educational module resource is designed to be ‘modified and tailored to fit the requirements of different local educational contexts’” (http://www.dual-usebioethics.net/, accessed June 20, 2010).
The project has already developed a substantial network of international colleagues through an ambitious series of seminars around the world intended to both raise awareness and foster education on dual use issues (Rappert 2008, 2010). The surveys described above are another way in which this group identifies potential partners; it is hoped that they, like the informal network, will make use of the EMR. And as described further below, another Bradford colleague has developed a program to
take advantage of advances in videoconferencing to provide an online train-the-trainer program based on the EMR.
The materials provided at Life Sciences, Biosecurity and Dual Use Research: Dual Use Role Playing Simulation and at Biology and Security focus on providing resources and discussion questions that would be used to conduct in-person activities with an instructor or leader. For example, the role playing simulation provides an accompanying PowerPoint lecture, information on 16 roles, and instructor notes. The exercise, which was developed as part of the series of seminars carried out by Rappert and Dando described below, covers issues in research publication, funding, oversight, and relevant policy documents.
The Student Pugwash USA Biology and Security materials include three hypothetical scenarios addressing ethics and dual use issues, along with accompanying discussion questions; also included is an “instant event idea” based on the plot synopsis and a video extract from the movie Mission Impossible II. The related discussion questions include one exploring the dual use nature of life sciences research.
Two additional online resources identified as focusing on broader but related biosecurity concerns do not appear to specifically target awareness-raising about potential dual use implications of research among practicing life scientists and life sciences students. The BW Terrorism Tutorial from the Nuclear Threat Initiative in the United States (http://www.nti.org/h_learnmore/bwtutorial/index.html) discusses the potential motivations of terrorists to use chemical and biological weapons (CBW), recent U.S. government responses to the CBW terrorism issue, examples of historical use of CBW, some information on classical BW threat agents and their categorization, hurdles to making a biological weapon, and prevention and response strategies (such as intelligence, export controls, legislation, lab security, and public health disease surveillance systems). The resource notes the dual use nature of some microbiological equipment and techniques but its focus is not on promoting an awareness of potential dual use implications that might arise from a scientist’s research. The Educational Module on Chemical & Biological Weapons Nonproliferation from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University Brussels) in Belgium, and the International Relations and Security Network in Switzerland (http://poli.vub.ac.be/cbw/index.html) includes basic and intermediate level modules on CBW, case studies of the Iraqi and Libyan chemical weapons programs, a historical overview of CBW, including a discussion of state programs, and incentives and penalties to prevent CBW proliferation, including trade and technology assistance, export controls, sanctions, arms control measures, and treaties. The resource is a discussion of CBW armament and disarmament issues focused on state weapons programs, rather than
a resource to discuss the dual use implications that may arise from academic research.
A resource focused on dual use issues related to chemistry illustrates the potential contributions of international scientific organizations to education. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), with support from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, developed The Multiple Uses of Chemicals to provide IUPAC chemists and chemistry teachers with materials intended to raise awareness about the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the responsibilities of scientists.
Four working papers were produced that cover the many uses of chemicals, the CWC, the toxicology of selected chemical warfare agents, and codes of conduct. Approximately six pages long, the papers have been peer reviewed and tested in workshops in the UK, Russia, South Korea, and Italy…. Workshop participants have included chemistry students, teachers, university professors, diplomats, and specialists in chemical warfare. The four papers have been translated and are available in the working languages of the OPCW—Arabic, Chinese, French, English, Russian, and Spanish. The working papers are designed for use by university and high school chemistry teachers. They provide enough material for a one-hour lecture, or more. The papers were written with the objectives of promoting chemistry, providing information about the CWC, and encouraging debate. (Hay 2007)
The project also includes the creation of a website (www.iupac.org/multiple-uses-of-chemicals) and the design of several case studies. One feature of the project is the attention given to codes of conduct as a means to foster discussion and debate about what constitutes unethical conduct.
An additional resource released after the workshop in Warsaw is a short (7-1/2 minutes) video produced by the Office of Biotechnology Activities of the National Institutes of Health.11 Dual Use: A Dialogue consists of a series of statements by leading U.S. scientists that provides an introduction to the concept of dual use and stresses the importance of scientists becoming engaged in dual use issues, including as part of education. The video could be used on its own as part of an introduction to dual use issues or could be an additional resource along with some of the more comprehensive materials described above. It could also be used in a number of the settings that form part of the strategic plan for education and outreach of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB 2008).
The video may be found on the NSABB website at http://oba.od.nih.gov/biosecurity/, accessed July 10, 2010.
Discussions of the Baseline for Courses and Materials in Warsaw
During the workshop, participants offered more information to supplement the materials presented in the background papers about the current state of education about dual use issues and augment—at least anecdotally—the baseline of available data. Participants generally agreed that education on dual use issues is “patchy and ad hoc” and is frequently dependent on the efforts of local or national champions interested in the topic. As the background presented by Pinard on the United States and Revill and his colleagues on Europe, Israel, and Japan indicated, there appear to be relatively few in-person courses devoting attention to discussions of laboratory research with dual use potential, although, as the next section illustrates, interest and initiatives in these areas appear to be growing. There was also considerable discussion among the participants that a significant amount of information and training about responsible conduct and biosafety is currently provided informally, either through dedicated modules outside regular coursework or via in-laboratory mentoring by senior researchers. This may understate the amount of general education on these issues that is actually available to students, although participants generally agreed that it remains unclear if discussions of dual use were more widespread than the background surveys indicated. Rather, it emphasizes the need to consider other opportunities for providing education beyond formal coursework.
Although education specifically devoted to dual use appears to be minimal in many countries, the workshop participants supported the survey results that many universities have existing programs that address laboratory biosafety or which include an educational component on bioethics. They also introduced a theme that recurred throughout the workshop: The most appropriate settings in which to incorporate education on dual use issues may vary with educational level, institution, and country. Some participants noted, for example, that educational programs incorporating a strong ethics component appear to be more common in professional schools (e.g., medical, veterinary, and public health) than in basic life science programs. Other participants felt that ethics courses and modules were more common in graduate curricula than at other levels (undergraduate, postdoctoral researcher, or faculty). On the other hand, the survey data from Japan revealed the prevalence of bioethics courses at the undergraduate level (Minehata and Shinomiya 2009).
Based on the material in the background papers, other information collected by the committee, and the presentations and discussions in the
Warsaw workshop, the committee agreed on several findings about current conditions:
Available evidence suggests that, to date, there has been very limited introduction of education about dual use issues, either as stand-alone courses or as parts of other courses. Furthermore, few of the established courses appear to incorporate the successful practices and lessons learned from research on the “science of learning.”
Because a significant amount of information and training about responsible conduct and biosafety is provided informally, either through dedicated modules outside regular coursework or in-laboratory mentoring by senior researchers, currently available evidence may understate the amount of education on these general issues that is actually available to students. It remains unclear whether discussions of dual use may be more widespread than the background surveys indicated.
A number of online resources for education about dual use issues are available, both for use by individuals and as the basis for or as supplements to courses. Only a few of the resources are explicitly designed to support active and engaged learning.
BEYOND THE BASELINE: SOME EXAMPLES OF INCREASING INTEREST IN EDUCATION ABOUT DUAL USE ISSUES
The information available to the committee shows the limited extent to which dual use issues are part of current education for life scientists. The committee also found evidence, however, of a recent increase in examples of lectures, or modules, and entire courses addressing dual use issues. The changes were apparent, for example, between the discussions at the Second International Forum on Biosecurity in early spring 2008 (NRC 2009f) and the workshop in Warsaw in November 2009. The examples are an encouraging sign, in particular because they are occurring in many parts of the world. This section describes some of the efforts that emerged during the Warsaw workshop, as well as those reported elsewhere.
It should be noted that a significant number of the examples of new educational efforts represent the result of the work of the group associated with the Bradford Disarmament Research Centre mentioned above. In addition to the work already described, Malcolm Dando and Brian Rappert carried out more than 130 seminars and discussions for some 2,500 life sciences faculty at universities and research institutes
in 15 countries. Although the primary purpose of the seminars was to gauge awareness of dual use issues, ascertain attitudes about potential oversight mechanisms, and raise awareness of the potential misuse of the life sciences for bioweapons development (Rappert 2008), the continuing contacts in a number of countries helped to support introduction of new educational material. Australia (Enemark 2010), Switzerland (Garraux 2010), and Sweden (Smallwood 20009) are among the examples, and in all these cases, as well as in Israel (Friedman 2010), there was some engagement by the government officials in helping to encourage the seminars or the follow-up activities.
As described above, the Education Module Resource was the result of collaboration with the Japan Defence Medical College and the Landau Network Centro Volta. Students at the Medical College receive different parts of the material at several points in their education as their needs and interests develop (Yamada 2009); additional material about the Japanese case may be found in Minehata and Shinomiya (2010). In addition, in cooperation with the Landau Network, implementation “tests” of the EMR were carried out in several countries, usually by providing one or more lectures as part of a regular course or workshop, with an evaluation afterwards (Mancini and Revill 2009:12). For example, in 2009, cooperation with the National Board of Biologists in Italian Universities, which coordinates a range of activities within Italy and between Italian and other European universities, enabled tests of parts of the EMR at the universities of Milan and Torino.
Feedback from students suggests that 50% of students wanted further teaching on issues of misuse and the programme was most effective with small groups where students could be more actively engaged. In the future the biosecurity modules are to be developed and applied to other science courses within the university. (Smallwood 2009:7)
More such tests were planned for the future.
Other examples of new educational initiatives about dual use issues include the introduction of material from the EMR into syllabi in the master’s program in biomolecular engineering course at Uppsala University in Sweden, with two 45-minute lectures into ethics courses. A less encouraging case that developed as part of the Bradford efforts is the continuing and so far unsuccessful effort to introduce a module on dual use and biosecurity into the curriculum in South Africa. This change would require a formal endorsement from the government that so far has not been forthcoming (NSABB and World Health Organization [WHO] 2009:18-20).
Universities in Australia have undertaken a number of activities related to dual use issues and biosecurity more broadly. As Professor
Seamus Miller reported at the Third International Roundtable of the NSABB and the World Health Organization (WHO), a National Centre for Biosecurity, a joint venture of the Australian National University and Sydney University, was established in September 2008 with support from the Australian government. The focus of the center is “research and education on all matters relating to biosecurity, including but not restricted to DUR [dual use research] issues. In addition, other activities are under way at centers that are connected with the National Centre for Biosecurity” (NSABB and WHO 2009:23).12
An example from the United States illustrates the use of the mandatory education to introduce dual use issues. In one of the cases cited in the AAAS survey, Professor Michael Imperiale of the University of Michigan lectures on research with dual use potential within the NIH-mandated RCR framework. The students
watch a podcast of a past lecture and participate in small group discussion during class. In these small groups, students discuss the definition of dual use research, risks and benefits of conducting and communicating research, and the global nature of science and emerging technologies. Professor Imperiale also encourages his students to discuss the dual use dilemma with their colleagues. (AAAS 2008:13)
An example of including dual use issues in the bioethics curriculum is the work of Professor David Koepsell of the Delft University of Technology. In 2009 he used one of his own articles to introduce students to a basic ethical problem in research, focusing on the examples of smallpox and the mousepox case. The cases allowed the students to move from an introduction to basic ethical theory to exercises in ethical reasoning that he considers fundamental to all applied ethics (Koepsell 2009).
Dual use and biosecurity issues are also being introduced into some training and education on biosafety, which traditionally has been treated as primarily related to the skills needed for safe laboratory practices. Biosafety training also extends well beyond universities to include industry, government laboratories, and other research institutions. As discussed earlier, in recent years some have argued that biosafety can be a vehicle for fostering a broader “culture of responsibility” among scientists and that beginning with biosafety may also be the best approach in countries already seeking to bring their laboratories up to global standards (NRC 2009f). Linking laboratory biosafety with security measures can thus provide a context for introducing dual use issues as part of a larger context of responsible research.
The discussions during the workshop and in various reports offer a number of examples that suggest the linkages between biosafety and biosecurity—and hence opportunities for addressing dual use issues—are increasing; further information may be found in Chapter 4. With regard to biosafety and biosecurity in academia, in Pakistan, for example, efforts to develop a standardized curriculum on laboratory biosafety and biosecurity for undergraduate and graduate students in the life sciences are under way. This is part of the larger mandate of the National Core Group in Life Sciences to improve the quality of education and research in the life sciences in Pakistan.13 A workshop participant, Dr. Anwar Nassim, Science Adviser at the Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation (COMSTECH), is the leader of this effort. The core of the proposed biosafety and biosecurity curriculum would be a two semester series, each lasting three hours a week for 15 weeks. The proposed curriculum includes relevant national and international guidelines and regulations, risk assessment, appropriate laboratory practices, and laboratory risk management. An optional third semester on special topics would also be available.
The committee found, based on these examples and others discussed at the workshop, as well as the results of other meetings and studies, that:
There is some evidence of an increase in the introduction of dual use issues into education in the life sciences. These examples come from all over the world and seem to result primarily from the work of an interested, committed individual or a specific project, often by a nongovernmental organization.
At present, most of the examples of education about dual use issues occur as part of more general education about responsible conduct of research, in basic life sciences courses, as part of biosafety training, or within bioethics. In the United States, this extends to the specific education on responsible conduct of research (RCR) that is mandated by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Further information about the larger project may be found at http://ncgls.hec.gov.pk/.
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